Q&A: The Smart Marketer’s Guide to Marketing Project Management


“Marketing project management.“ The term doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it? It's not sexy enough to be a buzz word, and it’s frequently overlooked as a marketing discipline. But the reality is that even the smartest of marketing strategies aren’t worth much unless they’re executed with equally smart marketing project management ­– which is why talented project managers are worth their weight in gold and then some.

In this article, MindEcology’s Amanda Melendrez, AKA our goddess of account management, shares her insights about common elements of successful (and not-so-much) marketing project management, and the steps you can take to help you pull off superbly-executed campaigns. (Besides hiring her, of course.)

Amanda, you’ve managed a lot of marketing projects and campaigns during the course of your career.

Amanda: “Yes, too many to count. It sounds cheesy, but practice really does make perfect. I learn something from each project that I apply to the next one.“

Project management can make or break a campaign, yet it seems like there isn’t much discussion about it.

Amanda: “Totally agree. A poorly managed project is a huge time vampire and a major obstacle to getting results. Yet many agencies or marketing teams get so focused on biz dev and pushing deliverables out the door that they begin to believe they ‘just don’t have time’ to sit down and fine tune their processes.

Here’s how that way of thinking will come back to bite you: If you ‘just don’t have time’ to get it right from the beginning, you’ll probably have even less time to deal with issues that pop up later. In other words, having one campaign kickoff meeting to discuss project parameters is going to be a lot less painful than having six meetings down the road because you’re trying to fix problems.”

Where does project management usually go wrong?

Amanda: “Most problems stem from bad communication – either too much or too little – and lack of clarity about purpose and roles. Sometimes this is a matter of having too many chefs in the kitchen. Typically, a project only needs one manager and one or two ‘bosses’. Everybody else should be an implementer, a reviewer, or a resource, or they shouldn’t be there at all.”

So what tips do you have for agency account managers and marketing managers who are looking to up their project management game?

“Tip 1: Seek clarity first, last, and always. Establish clear expectations about deadlines, roles, reporting, deliverables and approvals.

Tip 2: Have a project kickoff call or meeting. This goes back to what I was saying earlier about taking the time to get things right on the front end, so you won’t have to waste time later dealing with problems.

Tip 3: Use a project management tool. It can be something simple, like an Excel spreadsheet, or something more sophisticated, like project management software. Whatever it is, your tool should be accessible to all the key players and provide a depiction of the project’s “big picture” in terms of progress towards milestones. It’s also helpful if your project management tool provides a central clearinghouse for documents and files associated with the project.

Tip 4: Do a reset when something changes. If someone new joins the team, it’s best to have another kickoff meeting – even if some people are going to have to repeat themselves or listen to information that they already know. Again, it’s the whole ‘invest an hour now to save 10 hours of trouble later’ wisdom at work here.

Tip 5: Show leadership. If you’re the project manager, remember that you’ll be held accountable if the project crashes. Don’t be shy about voicing concerns and providing constant reminders about the project’s purpose and timelines.“

Related Articles:
“So You’re Thinking About Hiring An Advertising Agency”
“5 Silly Ways That Advertising Agencies Waste A Bunch of Time”

Looking for a rockstar to manage your marketing or advertising campaign? MindEcology can help – and speaking of campaigns, we can help you with campaign strategy, too – and creative.  Let’s talk.